Thoreau-Wabanaki Trail Map presentation

02/27/2008 3:00 pm
02/27/2008 4:00 pm

Fogler Library to Host Cartographer Michael Hermann and Penobscot Tribal Historian James Francis

February 21, 2008
Contacts: Gretchen Gfeller, Web and Public Relations Specialist; University of Maine Raymond H. Fogler Library; 5729 Raymond H. Fogler Library, Orono, ME ; 04469-5729; 207-581-1696 

ORONO -- Henry David Thoreau was not just another Maine tourist.  The essays Thoreau wrote about his journeys and experiences in the Maine woods reflect a deep understanding of the spiritual importance of wilderness.  Thanks to a collaboration between the Thoreau-Wabanaki Trail Committee, Maine Woods Forever, and the University of Maine Press, a new generation of travelers can follow in the footsteps of the renown naturalist with the Thoreau-Wabanaki Trail Map and Guide.

The public is invited to learn more about this project on Wednesday, Febr. 27, when UMaine cartographer Michael Hermann and Penobscot Nation Tribal Historian James Francis visit Fogler Library.  To be held in Special Collections from 3-4 p.m., "The Process of Map Design: equal cartographic voice" will be an opportunity to understand more about the trails taken by Thoreau and the Penobscot Indian guides who accompanied him, as well as the unique collaborative process that led to the map's creation.

Previous maps simply drew a line plotting Thoreau's route.  Hermann created a map that locates his narrative within the landscape.  The reader literally 'reads' the map as they follow the routes and add Thoreau's words.  Hermann says, "It is a genre known as mapping narrative.  This piece developed into an example of ethical mapping concerning the restoration of native voice."  

Because Thoreau's words dominated the map, Hermann was challenged to bring a Native voice to the project.  His work with James Frances, Penobscot Tribal Historian, broadened the scope of the map to include Penobscot place names in addition to a selection of Thoreau's quotes specific to his Indian guides.  Francis reflects, "One of Thoreau's biggest contributions to Penobscot history was the documentation of Penobscot place names."  He notes, "Thoreau once wrote in his journals that 'the Indian language reveals another wholly new life to us.'  By having contact with Penobscot men, Thoreau discovered a new, more informed view of Native Americans, moving from his naïve assumptions to an understanding that included respect and reverence."

Copies of the map will be available for purchase at the event.  Refreshments will be served.  The "Process of Map Design" gathering is free and open to the public.

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